The season for sponsorship deals is winding down, and while T-Mobile, Milram and Cofidis have secured sponsorship renewal, Team Gerolsteiner is still awaiting a decision from the mineral water bottler. Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer stated in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau that he will sit down with the sponsor in September "and talk about what we do and how it will go further."
Holczer said that the decision isn't as much about doping scandals as it is about economics, and that the power lies in the hands of the water drinking public. "The consumer is the one who decides in the end whether Gerolsteiner will continue after 2008. One thing is clear: the whole purpose of sponsoring is to sell bottles of water."
While Gerolsteiner's decision to renew or not to renew might be about economics, finding a replacement sponsor will be increasingly difficult in light of the negative press the sport has gotten in recent weeks. "It's terribly difficult to be sure these days, even though I have had a good feeling since the second Tour de France rest day." The rival German T-Mobile team was able to extend its sponsorship through 2009, but whether or not this will have an impact on his sponsor's decision, Holczer is uncertain. "I'm not going to break out in euphoria and say that is an indication for the gentlemen in Gerolsteiner to do the same. But it surely doesn't hurt that T-Mobile made this decision."
The 53-year-old took an optimistic view of the state of the sport, saying that the doping cases which came to light during the Tour de France didn't indicate the sport had failed - quite the contrary. "I think that all the riders who were excluded from the race, no matter how big their names are, supports my position. For me, it wasn't a spoiled tour or a disaster, but probable the cleanest Tour that we have ever seen," Holczer stated. "They cracked down like never before. That is what we need in cycling."